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Intel’s new tech makes hard drives feel as fast as an SSD

Published Mar 28th, 2017 1:30PM EDT
SSD vs. HDD: Intel Optane Memory
Image: Intel

Intel last week released an SSD that’s faster and more durable than its rivals. The best thing about the Optane DC P4800X drive is that it also works as RAM memory. That’s right, Optane drives may deliver cover RAM and SSD duties in the future. I say in the future because this first Optane product isn’t aimed at the consumer market. Instead, it’ll be used in servers for the time being.

However, Intel has now announced a second Optane-branded product, the Intel Optane Memory, which targets regular computer users and should offer you a computing experience as fast as an SSD even on a system that still uses regular HDD spinning drives.

Even though SSDs will significantly speed up computers, they’re considerably more expensive than good old HDDs. But the Intel Optane Memory SSD is a product that’ll speed up systems that still use a mechanical hard drive as the primary storage.

The Optane Memory is an M.2 NVMe SSD, AnandTech explains, that will be used as a cache drive inside your computer. It comes in 16GB and 32GB capacities, which means it’s not made for regular storage purposes.

Instead, Intel designed the drive to be used only for caching, with the help of its Rapid Storage Technology drivers. Optane Memory caching is only supported on Windows 10 64-bit and only for the boot volume, the report explains. Furthermore, you’ll need a Kaby Lake generation 200-series motherboard and Kaby Lake processors to make it all work. Furthermore, the drive might not be too power-efficient for use in a laptop for the time being.

If you’re thinking about combining Intel’s Optane Memory with an SSD drive to further speed up your system, don’t get too excited. It’s likely you won’t notice any performance improvements.

In spite of these “limitations,” the Optane Memory is a relatively cheap upgrade for desktop users who want a faster OS experience but also plenty of HDD storage. The product retails for $44 (16GB) or $77 (32GB) and is available for preorder right now with an April 24 ship date. More technical details about Intel’s Optane Memory are available over at Intel and AnandTech.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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